Cake Icings and Fillings

cake with icing and filling
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Over large cakes, pour the icing by spoonfuls near the center on the top of the cake, and spread it all over the cake as smoothly as possible with a broad-bladed knife dipped in cold water, Set it in a cool oven for a few minutes, then in a dry, airy place, free from dust, to dry. Some icing does not need to be put in the oven, as it dries immediately. Small cakes are dipped into the icing and then laid on paper or tins to dry.

Sift one-half pound confectioners’ sugar* into a bowl, add the whites of two eggs and stir twenty minutes. Add a few drops lemon juice while the stirring is going on. Drop a little icing onto paper. If the icing stands without running, it is stiff enough. If it shows the least tendency to run, more sugar must be added. This icing is used for ornamenting cakes and serves as a kind of paste to stick flowers and leaves onto the top of the cake.

 * confectioners’ sugar is the same as powdered sugar

Pound three ounces blanched almonds with the white of one egg in a mortar until it becomes a paste. Mix with one-fourth pound confectioners’ sugar, the white of one-half egg and one-half teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir for five minutes. Dip small pieces of cake into the icing or pour and spread it over whole cakes with a broad-bladed knife. Hazel nuts and walnuts may be used the same way as almonds, as can also pistachio nuts. To the latter, add a few drops spinach green.

Mix one-half pound sifted confectioners’ sugar with the white of one egg and add three tablespoons fruit juice; raspberry, strawberry, currant, pineapple or peach. If lemon or orange juice is used, add a little grated rind. Spread the icing over the cake and set it for a few minutes in a cool oven. Then set it in a dry place which is free from dust to dry.

Put one cup brown sugar, one teaspoon butter, one-third cup milk, and a few grains of salt in a saucepan, and boil until a soft ball can be formed when tested in cold water. Beat until creamy, and spread while warm. Chopped nut meats may be added.

Melt two squares chocolate, add one-fourth cup boiling water, and mix well. Add confectioners’ sugar until the icing is of the right consistency to spread. Add one-half teaspoon vanilla and beat well. Coffee may be used in place of water.

Heat one tablespoon butter and two tablespoons milk in a saucepan. Remove from the fire, add two tablespoons cocoa, and enough confectioners’ sugar to thicken. About one cup of sugar will be required.

Sift one and one-fourth cups confectioners’ sugar and add heavy cream until it’s of the right consistency to spread (about two tablespoons). Add one-fourth teaspoon vanilla and beat well.

Boil one-third cup water and one cup sugar until the sirup* forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water. Add one-eighth teaspoon cream of tartar and one teaspoon vanilla, then pour slowly upon the stiffly beaten white of egg, beating constantly until thick enough to spread without running.

 *sirup – another spelling for syrup


To the recipe for Boiled Icing above, add two-thirds of a cup of cooked prunes which have been stoned* and cut in small pieces. Spread between layers of cake.

*stone – to remove pits

Wash, dry, and chop one cup figs. Wash, dry, stone, and chop one cup dates. Mix the fruit with one-half cup sugar, one-half cup boiling water, and the juice of one-half lemon. Cook over hot water until thick enough to spread.

Put one and one-half cups sugar, one tablespoon butter, one square chocolate, one-third cup milk, and a few grains of salt in a saucepan. Heat slowly to the boiling point, and boil until a soft ball can be formed when a spoon of the mixture is dropped in cold water. Remove from the fire, add one-half cup nut meats chopped, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Boil one cup sugar and one-third cup boiling water until a soft ball can be formed when a spoon of the mixture is dropped in cold water. Soften one-half pound marshmallows over hot water, add the sirup, and when partly cooled, add one teaspoon vanilla and beat until stiff enough to spread. Chopped nuts, dates, figs, raisins, or candied fruits may be added.

Mix two tablespoons hot black coffee, one tablespoon butter, two tablespoons cocoa, and one-half teaspoon vanilla. Then add up to one cup confectioners’ sugar; enough for the mixture to spread without running.

Mix one-half cup sugar, three tablespoons flour, and the grated rind of one-half orange in the top of a double boiler. Add one-half cup orange juice, one beaten egg, and one teaspoon butter, Cook over hot water for twelve minutes, stirring often.

Press three baked apples through a sieve. Beat the white of one egg until stiff. Add one-half cup of confectioners’ sugar and beat well. Add the strained apples, gradually add another one-half cup sugar, and beat until very light. Spread between layers and on top of the cake.

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If you’d like to bake cakes using old fashioned recipes, here’s a link you may want to check out:  Vintage Cake Recipe Books for Modern Times


I’d love to hear if you make cakes (or just like to eat them). Leave a comment below.


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Author: Angela Johnson

I’ve been interested in cooking since I was a teenager. Growing up in a small town in Illinois, I ate many home-cooked meals and tried out recipes (mostly cookies). Wherever I live or travel, I check out grocery stores for unusual foods, eat at local restaurants, and buy regional cookbooks. I’m also fascinated with learning how people in the past lived, and how they obtained food and prepared it.

4 thoughts on “Cake Icings and Fillings”

  1. Same here. We always made icing from scratch but not in so many yummy flavors. Very interesting to see how they did that before you could buy it in a container. So glad you posted this page before I started my Wednesday and Friday fasts next week. 🙂

    1. My favorite cake was German Chocolate, which my aunt made for Thanksgiving. It had three layers with frosting in between each layer and the outside of the entire cake was frosted, too. The cake and icing was made from scratch and we only had it once a year.

  2. I love making icing from scratch. It’s good to know that there are no excessive preservatives in it and it tastes far better than the canned kind. Thanks for sharing these vintage recipes.

    1. I certainly don’t like canned icing, either. We didn’t have cake often when I was growing up, but it was never made from a mix – the icing, either.

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